The quantity of radiation potentially available for photosynthesis that is captured by the crop is best described as absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). Absorbed PAR (APAR) is the difference between descending and ascending fluxes. The four components of APAR were measured above and within two planting densities of corn (Zea mays L.) and several methods of measuring and estimating APAR were examined. A line quantum sensor that spatially averages the photosynthetic photon flux density provided a rapid and portable method of measuring APAR. PAR reflectance from the soil (Typic Argiaquoll) surface decreased from 10% to less than 1% of the incoming PAR as the canopy cover increased. PAR reflectance from the canopy decreased to less than 3% at maximum vegetative cover. Intercepted PAR (1 - transmitted PAR) generally overestimated absorbed PAR by less than 4% throughout most of the growing season. Thus intercepted PAR appears to be a reasonable estimate of absorbed PAR.